• When traveling, safety should always be of primary concern.  Weather conditions in Iceland can often be life threatening so you should always be well equipped and check the weather forecast before departure.  Download the 112 emergency application for your phone and register your position whenever possible.  That will make finding you easier if you get lost.  For further information about travel safety in Iceland visit http://safetravel.is . Always bring chargers and keep an extra set of batteries for electric appliances your safety might depend on like phones, GPS, headlamps and flashlights.

  • Always pack warm clothes when traveling in Iceland, no matter what the weather forecast is. The Icelandic summers are relatively mild and seldom hot and the weather can change in an instant.  Learn about clothing in layers so you can always keep your body at a comfortable temperature.  Cotton clothing, especially cotton base layers, are unable to keep a person warm when damp or wet so avoid wearing cotton clothing during extended outdoor activities.

  • Hiking in Iceland often involves rough terrain and crossing streams so wearing walking boots is essential for most hikes.  Hiking boots vary greatly when it comes to quality and comfortability.  Your choice of hiking boots could determine whether your hike will be pleasant or not so the making the right choice is crucial.  A good hiking boot should be comfortable, durable, waterproof and lightweight.  Wet feet are very uncomfortable when hiking so always bring extra pairs of socks with you.

  • Always follow trails where possible.  Tourism in Iceland has increased significantly in the recent years and extra care is needed to help keep Icelandic nature as unspoiled as possible.  Take all your trash with you during hikes and dispose of it in designated waste disposal containers.  Leaving behind trash makes the elves mad.

  • Hot springs contain boiling water and are very dangerous.  The ground on their edges can be loose and you could fall into them if you’re not careful and stand too close to their edges.  Lava fields contain cavities which are often covered by moss and therefore not visible to the eye.  Stay on the trails to avoid injury.

  • Don’t underestimate the usefulness of having a compass, map and GPS device.  Most people that do get lost while hiking in Iceland do so on a relatively easy 3 hour hike just outside Reykjavík.  Foggy weather can quickly make you lose all sense of direction.  You can download GPS coordinates for hikes around Iceland here..

  • Campsites in Iceland offer services like running water, showers, toilets, waste disposal, electricity, internet hotspots, BBQ facilities and more but availability of services varies between campsites.  Be sure to research in advance the campsites you intend to visit to see which services they provide. If you travel between campsites in Iceland you can save money by using the Iceland Camping Card.

  • If you bring, buy or rent a tent, try pitching it at least once before departure.  If you encounter any complications during test pitching you can avoid them when you are at your destination. Never take equipment you haven’t tested with you into potentially hazardous outdoor activities.

  • If you travel off the beaten track you should always have someone experienced with you who is familiar with the surroundings.  Make a travel plan and include in it the GPS coordinates of the places you plan to visit.  Let people know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.  Always have a Plan B available if the original plan cannot be fulfilled. A phone GPS cannot be trusted without guaranteed 3G coverage since your phone needs to download maps while you’re on the road.  Your phone can be your lifeline in serious situations so where phone coverage is limited you should memorize the closest place where your phone could connect with phone networks and mark the GPS coordinates of those places. If you’re hiking and cannot recharge your phone, turn the phone off while not in use.

  • Make sure that the sleeping bag you bring is fit for the occasion.  Most sleeping bags sold in Europe are tested according to a European standard which specifies their range of suggested use.  Make sure that the expected temperatures in your journey are not below the comfort range of the sleeping bag.  The extreme tested temperature for a sleeping bag is only applicable for keeping you alive in a survival situation, not for sleeping.  A down sleeping bag loses its insulation qualities if it gets wet so it’s essential that a down sleeping bag doesn’t get moist or wet.  Sleeping bags with synthetic filling keep some of their insulation when moist or wet but are heavier and bulkier than down ones.  When camping in Iceland you should use a 3 season sleeping bag in the summer and a 4 season sleeping bag in the winter. 2 season sleeping bags are simply not warm enough if you’re sleeping in a tent.

  • Make sure your backpack is comfortably fitting and adjusted to your body size on departure. The weight should mostly be carried on your hips. If it’s heavy on your shoulders you’re probably doing it wrong.  An uncomfortable backpack can turn an otherwise pleasant hike into a chore.

 

Further information about hiking safely in Iceland can be found here.